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July 29, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
3 Comments

Working from Home: How I make worklife easier

One of the biggest misconception about people who work from home is that our work is so much lighter compared to regular employees who go to work in offices.

Sure, we don’t have to take on the hideous traffic and can stay in our jammies all day, but working from home doesn’t mean that we lead stress-free work lives.

fernC-worklife-easy

First of all, we would not have the jobs we have without a set of skills to offer. And where skills are required, output is expected.

Just like any employee, we have standards to comply to, deadlines to meet, and in my case, software to learn from time to time. We have employers to report to and clients to please.

When it comes to output, the dynamics are the same.

But since I’ve been doing this for quite some time, I’ve been able to figure out a few things that make my worklife easier:

Here’s what I do:

1. I wake up early in the morning

I wake up early everyday to give myself time to read through articles and update myself on my industry.

Since social media management is part of  my work, I try to keep up with the latest trends in social media and content marketing in case I need to tweak my strategy to avoid running into problems with it later on.

Waking up early also gives me time to sort through my work emails and my list of tasks. This allows me to plan my day ahead.

2. I embrace technology

I used to cringe whenever I had to learn a new app or software, but through the years, I have learned to embrace them and appreciate the conveniences different collaboration tools bring to my work. Communicating work tasks with the team has never been so easy!

I’ve learned to use and navigate marketing and automation tools, and are no longer intimidated by new processes and technology when I’m being introduced to them. In fact, I’ve become more confident and have discovered some of these apps that I use to accomplish my tasks myself.

Changing my mindset about the technical aspects of my work has made it so much more exciting. I look forward to learning new things everyday.

3.  I take my Vitamin C

On a practical note, I keep myself healthy and take my daily dose of Vitamin C.

Did you know that Vitamin C regulates your blood pressure and keeps it from spiking even when facing stressful situations at work? It’s a very effective stress-buster.

I may dabble in a lot of unpopular brands of organic supplements nowadays, but when it comes to Vitamin C, I have no doubt that the most reliable brand is Fern-C.

Whether you report to work in an office like my husband or work from home like me, worklife ay easy with FERN-C!

Fern-C has been around for a while and those who have started on it have stuck with it even though less expensive brands are available. In short, Subok Na!

If you want to know more about Fern-C and the benefits of taking it, click on the following links and follow them:

Fern-C official website
Fern-C on Facebook
Fern-C on Twitter
Fern-C on Instagram

Waking up earlier, technology and Vitamin C are the three things that help me ford through the challenges I have to face at work. If you have more to add to my list, feel free to share them with me.

What do you do to make your worklife easier?

July 25, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
45 Comments

Money 4 Life: The poverty mentality

The Poverty Mentality is an attitude wherein the focus of a person is on what he does not have rather than on what he has.

The second session of Money 4 Life workshop I attended at Brighter Life Institute last July 16 was actually entitled “Planning and Managing Expenses,” but the point I most remember that day was financial expert Aya Laraya’s statement that we should not equate investment with deprivation.

That made me ask myself if our financial decisions lately had, in effect, deprived our children. So far we’re still okay, but we’re threading thin lines.

money4Life-notebook

But isn’t that a common notion? That sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve bigger goals? It is what it is, especially for the lower middle class, but it doesn’t have to be that way all the time. Some successes in life are achieved without too much drama.

One of the things I like about Aya is that he teaches, not only the process, but he also tries to break wrong mindsets about finances. For this one, it’s the poverty mentality.

brighter-life-flag

Let me now share with you the 7 principles on planning and managing expenses that I’ve learned from him at session 2:

1. Track your expenses 

Jay and I have jotted down our expenses using the Brighter Life Institute online forms, but Aya Laraya pointed out that we should make use of technology already available for accomplishing such things. So I downloaded the app he recommended — Wally, then started inputting our cash inflow and expenses.

Here’s a peek at what we spent on the past few days:

wally-app

In case you’re curious, the highest expense reflected there is for the kids’ education. Yes, we homeschool but that doesn’t go without expenses. Good education, in any form, does not come cheap.

Anyway, for me, the value of keeping record of your finances is that you can see if you are using your money as responsibly as you think you are. For example, it made us realize that the little expenses such as a tub of ice cream here, a bottled water there, hotdogs on stick here — can accumulate into one big expense and cause our budgeting to tip, if we’re not careful about it.

So we agreed that we allot a budget for these so we can regulate our spending better.

2. Be transparent to your Financial Advisor

“If you don’t give your financial advisor the right facts, they will resort to and advise you based on the default inflation model.”

Aya Laraya  showed us the current inflation model which is not only outdated, but also inapplicable to our family.

I don’t keep secrets from Che Gernandizo, our financial advisor, not on our finances anyway, but this made me realize that I haven’t really given her all the facts that she needed to know to advise me better. So we chatted on Facebook and she agreed to come and see me so we can talk about what we want to achieve 2.O!

I also sent her a copy of our list of monthly expenses and a list of our financial goals prior to our meeting so she can look them over and prepare for it.
financial-advisorChe was able to give me an estimation of how much we need to invest to achieve our 3-year goal. If we deposit a minimum of Php 3,000 a month in a bond fund, we have a better shot at raising the amount we need to fulfill our promise to our kids to take them to Legoland Malaysia, and maybe even go to Universal Studios in Singapore.

Why bond fund? Che explains that when you’re investing for short term, you need to protect your capital and not take too much risks because you know you’ll be using the funds soon. Bond funds fall under low risk investments.

3. Live your life

“When do you plan to live your life? When you’re old?” 

It sounded so funny when Aya said it but think about it…when do you plan to do it? The best time to explore and do the things that you want in life is when you still have the strength and energy to do it.

We also need to think about lost opportunities with our children if we don’t start now. Jay and I want to do a lot of things with our children – mostly take them to see the world. We want to make lasting memories with them. We want them to see many exciting places and give them opportunities to witness and explore different cultures.

Who was it that said, “a vision without action is merely a dream?” So we decided to start investing on that dream.

legoland-malaysia

4. Going for short-term goals can be a step towards long term goals

I was confused with this one at first since I thought that going for long term goals is the only way to go. But Aya counted “fixation on long term goals” as one of the mistakes investors make.

Aya said that many who are too fixated on long term goals end up failing at it. So do short-term goals first, then work from there.

We already started a mutual fund for our retirement and setting up mutual funds for each of our kids is already in the list of the goals we’ve discussed with Che. However, we’re also starting a bond fund for a short-term goal – our Legoland Malaysia family trip.

Instead of starting a new fund, we will be depositing in our current mutual fund account, but indicating that we’re putting the amount on a bond fund, instead of our retirement’s equity fund.

(READ: How to deposit via Sun Link Online)

5. Put a price on your goal

Most often than not, our family is pretty low-maintenance. But much as DIY travels sound so exciting, when you have three young children with you in a foreign place, there are certain conditions that need to be considered.

For example, I don’t mind sleeping in a transient house in Singapore, but there must be certain standards set on the type of transient house we will stay at. How big is our room? What’s included in the facility? What’s the location? Is it kid-friendly?

I also don’t want to share a room with other travelers. It took me months before I got used to sharing my bed with  my husband, I am not going to sleep in the company of strangers. End of discussion.

It took the three of us two hours, I think, discussing what we would need — from accommodations, plane tickets, food and travel allowance before we agreed on the amount we would need for the trip.

When you have specific guidelines to follow, it’s best to have the cash for it. We set the initial goal at Php 100,000 in three years which is achievable for us.

I realize that we can save Php 108,000 even without putting the money in mutual funds and just by religiously saving Php 3,000 a month, but we have better chances of our money growing if we put it in MF instead of depositing it in a bank.

At Che’s calculation, our investment may grow to Php 116, 000 at 4% annual rate of return, and around Php 180,000 if it does exceptionally well at 20% annual rate of return. What are the chances of our investment getting a 20% annual rate? I don’t really know, but Sun Life Financial is a strong and stable company with good heads behind it, so who knows?

By the way, Che based the minimum amount of investment we should do on our financial data.

(READ: Money Matters: Of Educational Plans and Mutual Funds)

6. Choose an investment package that will meet your goal

Being specific in what you want to achieve is important when you discuss investments with a financial advisor. There are many great investment packages available, but the real question, according to Aya, is will your money do what you want it to do?

You may be investing in many things but if they will not meet your goals or your needs, then there’s no point in investing in them.

There is also your capability to pay that needs to be considered. If you’re younger and have no financial obligations like kids to send to school,or if your other investments are already earning, maybe you can afford to go for higher risk investments.

But if you’re a middle-aged family man who’s just starting out, maybe you should first look into lower risk investments because you have to consider your family who will suffer with you should you end up losing your investment.

Che considered our cash inflow and outflow before presenting to us a package she felt was best for us. We don’t need to deduct it from the money we allot for our food budget or bills or from the kids’ education costs, not even on the money we use for our family activities or for miscellaneous expenses.  Apparently, based on our bills and budget lists, we can afford to invest more.

aya-laraya

 

7. Know your numbers

Aya Laraya challenges us to know our numbers. He said that he was able to easily adjust his finances when he got married because he knows his numbers. He reminded us that seasons in our lives change, we need to be on top of our finances so that we can apply changes and adjust accordingly.

Aya says we shouldn’t deprive ourselves in the name of investment. He said that we should invest what we can and still enjoy our lives. He even said that if our investments earn, it’s okay to take 30% of it and use it to enjoy with families and friends. What he’s getting at, if I am right, is that we shouldn’t fall victims to greed.

money4life-bloggers

This is what we’re doing right now. We’re writing down our monthly payables, tracking our daily expenses, listing down our financial goals, arranging our priorities, striving to faithfully deposit into our investment account and trying to live a full life while at it.

I wonder what new things I will learn on our next Money 4 Life workshop. Can’t wait!

July 24, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
28 Comments

Learning something new…like brush lettering

I read once that it’s common for women who hit the age of 40 to try out new things and explore more possibilities. They said that there’s a sudden sense of the value of time and how fast it runs that we become bolder in setting aside our inhibitions to go for the things we really want to do in life.

Maybe in my case, when I got married, I decided to live my life. I used to be so obsessed with my so-called career, I did not give time to other things outside my gigs, rehearsals and workshops. The only thing that may have deviated my attention somehow was young love. Alas, I was a romantic, haha! But even that somehow jelled well with what I was trying to accomplish.

inspired-brush-lettering

When I accepted Jesus into my heart and became part of a church, I learned to serve others, open myself up to friendships, recognize authority and appreciate life beyond what I knew.

So you can say it’s not me turning 40 because I just turned 40 a year ago, but it was Jesus. He opened my eyes to how beautiful life can be and taught me to appreciate life’s simplicities to its complexities.

So yeah, I learned to have fun and see the possibilities beyond what seem like limitations.

That’s what joining my friend, Margot Uy’s Inspired Brush Lettering workshop is for me, among other things.

From admirer to doer

I started out just as an admirer of the works of friends who do calligraphy. Alelie, who gave me my very first watercolor lessons; Milona, who designs mugs with her beautiful calligraphy; and Margot, an artist and godmother of my eldest son.

Margot has always been very supportive of my attempts at lettering and calligraphy. She would give me tips and encouragement on my social posts. Her works are some of my most favorite ones!

Anyway, when she started giving workshops, I just had to sign up for one even if it meant travelling to the South just to learn from her.

I signed up for one held at Red Kitchen + Bar last June 25th. I hired a babysitter and excitedly rode the bus going to Alabang carrying along a big pink water spray and a pack of 6 paper towels. TALK ABOUT EXAG!!

Okay, so Margot said to bring just a small spritz and a roll of tissue, but the plant spray and the pack of towellettes were what I found so they were what I got, haha!

Doing it right!

I’ve always known Margot to be two things – artistic and classy. So I wasn’t surprised to see how pretty the set-up was when I got there.

Margot welcomed all of us to the workshop, shared about how God gave her an opportunity and a purpose to share her talent in art.

In her words, “I have 2 goals why I wanted to share my passion: First, to know God’s word through my works. Second, To get to know and inspire more people. I don’t count followers just to be famous, I want them to follow me so they will follow the One who created me.”

margot-uy-workshop

The basics of making pretty letters

Margot explained that Calligraphy is basically your handwriting made pretty and lettering is drawing your letters. She taught us the basic strokes – thin and thick lines, how to use a regular brush pen and how to handle a watercolor brush pen.

She demonstrated strokes and styles as we eagerly looked on, and gave tips and comments on our individual works. It was so much fun!

artsy-margot

She discouraged us from being content with just imitating other works and basically licensed us to develop our strokes based on our individual, unique styles. “I want your letters to dance!” She said.

This was my very first attempt at lettering, or whatever you call it, in 2015:

My first “real” output at the Brush Lettering workshop was this:

Fully Housewifed (6)

And because Margot continues to give us exercises and tips through our Facebook group thread even after the workshop, here is my first homework:

www.fullyhousewifed.com (1)

And this was one of the most recent I’ve done during my quiet hours:

Snuck a few minutes to write down God’s Word for me today. :) #Bible #Psalms #artsymargot #inspiredbrushlettering

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

The practice she had us do last week was write the 26 letters of the alphabet. I found out that the uppercase ones are harder to do than the lowercases!

I also think that watercolor brush pens are easier to handle than the regular ones simply because they just need a bit of pressing for thick strokes, whereas I need to angle the regular brush pen to get the thickness I like.

Last summer, my friend Alelie patiently taught me the basics of watercolor painting:

Weeee! My very first #painting lesson! Thanks @alelietagle ! :) #summergetaway2016 #church #friends #WetOnWet

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

So I tried integrating what I learned with Calligraphy. Here are a couple of what I’ve come up with:

This is about what Jesus has done on the cross for ALL OF US…

Love already won. John 3:16; John 15:13; Ephesians 2:8. #calligraphy #artsymargot #inspiredbrushlettering

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

And this one is about my reflection on marriage during my prayer time:

Love like Christ. #marriage #watercolor #calligraphy

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

Staying focused and capturing every thought for Christ

Writing down Bible verses and encouraging quotes and song lyrics help me focus more on God’s promises and his faithfulness. Two years ago, I went to visit a psychotherapist regarding bouts of sadness I was experiencing. She told me that I have a mild case of clinical depression which is common to women approaching their 40’s.

When I was younger, it was easy for me to ignore or let pass unkindness, rejections and the harsh realities of life and relationships because I had the stage to run to. Whenever I would go up that stage and sing to people, all the pain I was feeling would fade away as soon as the music started. With that gone, it had been pretty overwhelming for me to have to face situations that confront my emotions.

The onslaught of discouraging thoughts can be disabling and at times, focusing on the things that matter to me such as my work, my husband and my children can be difficult. But writing down God’s word in beautiful letters helps me capture these thoughts and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Brush lettering also helps me shut out the noises of the world when I need to quiet my mind. The development of my artistry (naks!) is just a bonus for me. Doing brush lettering has become a useful tool for me in celebrating God’s calling for my life. Thank you Margot!

me-brush-lettering

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8.

#CalledtoCreate

Margot Uy have a series of Brush Lettering Workshops coming up. The latest would be on July 30, 2 to 6 PM, at the Mushroom Kitchen in Molito, Alabang.

brush-lettering-batch5

I was told that she also has a mom-daughter workshop coming up. So if you’re interested, just connect with Margot and message her in her social media:

Margot Uy on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artsymargot/
Margot Uy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margot.uy

Margot is also giving away a FREE slot at one of her Inspired Brush Lettering workshop. Check out the mechanics here:

Since I want to give more chances to others to participate in My Free Inspired Brush Lettering Workshop, I am extending the cut off day till July 30!!! I want to be a blessing to someone!!! I’m going to bless someone with a FREE INSPIRED BRUSH LETTERING WORKSHOP with materials included and some artsymargot freebies too! For those who attended my workshop already, a FREE INSPIRED BRUSHLETTERING 2.0 WORKSHOP with materials included and some artsymargot freebies too! To Enter: 1.Follow @artsymargot 2.Like and repost this photo with this hashtag #artsymargotblessinggiveaway 3.Tag 3 of your friends 4.Tell me why do you want to win this free workshop giveaway. 5.One Ig account= 1 entry Your account must be in public so I will be able to view your profile. Blessing giveaway period: July 13 – July 30 🎉Winner will be announced on July 31,2016; est. 8pm Metro Manila residents . 🖌Giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram. . . . #artsymargot #inspiredbrushlettering #brushlettering#brushletteringph #lettering #letteringph #missionalart

A photo posted by @artsymargot on

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